Greetings from Jerusalem!
Dear JCBT friends,
Monday, May 29th, 2017, we sent an urgent request to you for prayer to get the entry visas for Israel for two of the members of the Global Translation Advisors of the United Bible Societies worldwide.
A unique privilege had been given to JCBT to introduce some 20 of these top advisors to the land of the Bible as the context of the text they have been working on for years. The two-week study seminar is to provide a chance to learn and experience for themselves the reality of the nature, history and archeology of the land as the context of the Biblical message.
All visas had been given (after hard work by our staff) and sent to the relevant Israeli Embassies. Suddenly we got the news that two of the participants could not have the visa put in their passports, because there was no space remaining in their passports. New passports with new passport numbers needed to be obtained in just a few days!
It just happened that one of these applicants is responsible for Anglophone Africa and the other is responsible for Francophone Africa.
The two GTAs sprang into action and got new passports in the shortest of time. But now it meant that the whole VISA request process in Israel had to start from the beginning:
This meant that JCBT staff had to resubmit all the required documents of the two individuals to the Hebrew University (HU), under which the program is run. The HU provides the new acceptance paper for HU needed for the visa application submission at the Ministry of Interior (MOI) office, but now with the new passport numbers.
This meant that after obtaining the HU paper, a new visa application had to be submitted to the Ministry of Interior (MOI) all over again with the new passport number in it. The new confirmation of visa by MOI had then to be sent urgently to the Israeli embassy in Nairobi.
The timing for all this to happen within a few days seemed impossible. So, we turned to you to pray with us to get the visas for these two important consultants so that they would not miss this opportunity.
As soon as we got the new passport numbers Halvor sprang into action. It was the day before Shavuot, the Biblical Feast of Weeks, seven weeks after Passover (Pentecost). Often on the eve of holidays the offices are already closed, and sure enough the gates of the university were shut and locked. Halvor realized that this meant a two-day delay till the university offices would again be open on Thursday, after the Shavuot Holiday. The same applies to the government offices.
So early Thursday morning Halvor sped to the university, knowing that everything was dependent on that one day, since offices are not open here on Friday and Saturday. Sunday is the day when the candidates were to arrive in Jerusalem. More prayer.
Thursday morning, June 1st 2017, offices were again open at HU and MOI.
Halvor left about 9 am to the HU campus.
He met Eric, Director of the special programs of Rothberg International School for Overseas Students (RIS), just as he was leaving his office. Thankfully his secretary, Yonit, was still in the office and willing to focus on this urgent matter in the midst of her other responsibilities and with no prior appointment. She had to enter the new passport number into the Hebrew U. documents and after that she sent Halvor to get the required signature from the Vice Provost of the Rothberg International School, Yonatan Kaplan, who must personally sign the changed documents. “Yonatan is now abroad, and the Ministry of Interior has recently begun to demand his personal signature”, Halvor was told. Since Halvor had no alternative he asked the documents to be stamped anyway with a printed signature.
By 10:30 Halvor was already at parking lot near the Ministry of Interior (MOI). As he entered it the guard exclaimed emphatically that “no more numbers are being given to anyone this morning. So many people have come that there are now 4 hours of waiting to see a clerk”. But Halvor was not about to give up, so he walked upstairs to the row of desks of the visa clerks.
Halvor had no number and no invitation, as is usual in visa request. He greeted Miri, who had processed our visa application a month earlier. “You have to wait until I can deal with you”, she said. Amazingly just 10 minutes later she called Halvor and started working at entering the new documents from HU with the new passport numbers into the new visa requests.
While working, Miri was all along complaining about the extra work when the computer suddenly stopped functioning. Then, while waiting for a technician, Halvor and Miri exchanged pictures of their grandchildren.
Half an hour later the problem was solved and her work continued in filling the new visa application forms. This also required paying the $100 application fee for each of them again. The new applications were submitted but when would the confirmations be granted to the owners of the new passports, Samy Tioye and Jean Claude? Miri promised that she would work on the applications that afternoon after the office was closed to the public.
What a joy, when at 4 pm that day Miri indeed faxed to Halvor the confirmation of the two visas, which she also sent directly to the Israeli Embassy in Nairobi.
FRIDAY, June 2, 2017
About 2pm Friday Samy Tioye called to say that he and Jean Claude had the new visas in their passports!
SUNDAY, June 4, 2017
They and all the other GTAs of the study seminar arrived safely in Israel and have already had some five days of intensive study tours in Jerusalem and the Beer-Sheba and Dead Sea areas before heading to Galilee in the beginning of the coming week.
PRAISE THE LORD! THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS!
As you can see from the story there were many obstacles where the prayers made a difference in our being able to secure the visas.
This is how we learn DEPENDENCE AND PRAYER. JCBT is dependent on GRACE in many ways.
Reminder: Our 5-month program students are completing their intensive semester program in two weeks. They will get their diploma at the faculty club of the Hebrew University on June 22.
The 12 students of 2017, although coming from five different countries and very different living conditions, have become an especially united and bonded “family”. They have been enriched by great lecturers and by wonderful team of volunteers representing in practice the statement: “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, by the love you have for one another.”
Thank you for your love as well as you are demonstrating in both prayer and practical support.
With thanks and blessings,
Halvor and Mirja
P.S. Halvor will be participating in the Wycliffe Bible Translation Conference (BT 2017) in Dallas, Texas, October 13-17. He will be given a presentation there. He will visit in other areas of USA depending on invitations.
Halvor’s dates in USA are are from Sunday, the 9th of October to Thursday, the 19th of October.
Feel free to choose from a grand variety of Bible and Israel related topics that may be of interest to you and your circles of family, friends, congregations or schools – from high school to seminary level…especially if you are thinking of planning a study tour or pilgrimage tour to Israel.